By Felicia Imohimi
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) have called for comprehensive approach to curb drug abuse in the country.
They made the call at the Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of MDCAN, FCT Chapter, on Friday in Abuja.
The theme of the conference is: “Epidemic of Drug and Substance Use, Misuse and Abuse: Causes, Consequences and Remedies’’.
Sub-themes are “Drug Abuse and the family: Prevention, detection and care giving” and “A Doctor’s retirement plan: When and How?”
Retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, Chairman/CEO of NDLEA, noted that the dangers inherent in drug use and other psychoactive substances were very enormous.
Marwa also the Chairman of the occasion emphasised “the consequences are so grievous that we cannot afford to ignore the call for all hands to be on deck in the fight against the trend.
Represented by Oluchi Nweke, Assistant Commander of Narcotic, NDLEA, he noted that substance/drug use should not be handled with kid gloves adding that there was paradigm shift in the age bracket of partakers in the unhealthy act.
He specifically said that the unhealthy act had moved from the normal adult age groups to under age “now fully in the quagmire”.
“We are all stakeholders starting from the individual, family, institutions and the society at large. Everybody is affected in one way or the other in the adverse effect of this great challenge.
“Substance and drug use is becoming nightmarish putting into consideration that the activities of armed bandits, terrorists and many groups identified and unidentified are horrendously terrifying our society.
“There is no gain saying the fact that players in this acts, nonetheless are mostly under the influence of substance use in the face of the foregoing.
“I am pleased that with this gathering concerted effort is being made to put this threat under control. The aim is to curb the social and moral menace in ever increasing prevalence of drug abuse in Nigeria.
“It is pertinent to device means in which the society can be made to understand the dangers posed by substance use and how negatively it has impacted our society.
Marwa noted that substance use and abuse around the world including Nigeria was on the increase in terms of the proportion of the world population.
He explained that findings from the National Drug Survey (2018) conducted by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) revealed that 51-year-olds to 61-year-olds had used a psychoactive substance in the past year for non-medical purpose.
According to him, this means that one in seven persons has used some substances other than Alcohol and Tobacco. More worrisome is the finding that among four drug users in Nigeria, one is a woman.
“Above findings of the survey by UNODC gave a troubling portrait of drug abuse in Nigeria and we can no longer live in denial that Nigeria has a thriving illicit drug culture.’’
Dr Imuentinyan Igbinovia, Chairman, MDCAN FCT Chapter, called on government to prosecute drug dealers in order to curtail the menace in the society.
Igbinovia noted that the theme was selected “because it has become a serious matter cutting across all strata in the society, while the poor uses a particular type of drug the rich abuse other types.
He emphasised that the conference was to enlighten the people on the dangers, it societal ills and also to bring some levels of remediation to reduce the menace among the people.
According to him, the consequence of drug abuse is a lot because it damage homes, family and when the family unit is broken every other thing is broken.
`It also leads to crime because quite a number of abuse of drug is nothing but anti-social behaviour and we do not want this anti-social behaviour in our system.
Dr Osamuede Ojo, Consultant Psychiatrist and Substance use Disorder Specialist, Karu General Hospital, FCTA, called for closer monitoring of drugs supply and distribution in the country in order to reduce the prevalence of abuse.
Ojo, also the Medical Director of the hospital, in a keynote address on “Epidemic of Drug and Substance Use, Misuse and Abuse: Causes, Consequences and Remedies’’ specifically, called for policy on unused prescription medicines.
According to her, such measure will ensure that unused prescription drugs do not get to the hands of the dealers.
Ojo noted that curbing the epidemic of substance abuse required collaboration and partnership between multiple institutions.
“It demands education, uses prevention, treatment and research, supply reduction, law enforcement to make legal drug scarcer, more expensive and less socially tolerated.
“Drug abuse and misuse increase mortality from overdose, psychological and psychiatric disorders, respiratory problems, kidney problems, effect on sex and reproduction among others. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)